Huntingdon’s loss is Newbury’s gain

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January 19

It was disappointing that Huntingdon was washed out last Friday, but Harambe and Colours Of My Life, who had been entered there, have been re-routed to Newbury’s meeting on Wednesday, and with a relatively dry 48 hours at the Berkshire track, here’s hoping that the next bout of rain is late arriving as the jumping surface is improving all the time and looking ideal.

Harambe, who was still in contention when he fell at the last in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham in November, makes his belated debut in the novices’ handicap chase, and he schooled well again at Barbury on Monday morning and is ready to start.

Colours Of My Life will also be making her jumping debut, in her case in the mares novice hurdle. She ran well in her first bumper but then got stuck in the mud when tried in Listed company at Cheltenham, but Alan reports that she, too, has been pleasing him on the schooling grounds, though whatever she does here he thinks she will improve on next time.

We have Heart Of A Lion in the two-mile handicap hurdle, and he has been runner-up on his last two outings and seems to have learned to settle, though Alan reports that he has had his soft palate cauterised since his last run.

Midnight’s Gift has finished in the frame in all her five races since returning to jumping, winning at Fakenham, and her consistency means that she is now 5lb higher than when runner-up at Bangor in September. Consequently, she has topweight in the mares handicap hurdle, but Alan hopes she will run well, though well aware that she faces a stiff enough task.

Rideau Canal was staying on well in fifth place on his debut at Ffos Las, so Alan hopes he, too, will run another good race in the bumper, while on Thursday at Wincanton we have Dino Velvet going for the two-mile hurdle, and the more the ground dries out the better his chance.

Looking ahead to next week, Alan plans to run his Rowland Meyrick Chase hero Canelo in the Skybet Chase (formerly known as the Great Yorkshire) at Doncaster next week. He has gone up 6lb for winning at Wetherby on Boxing Day, but Alan likes this Town Moor race, having twice won it with Ziga Boy in recent years, and as Canelo saves a bit for himself with his habit to idle in front, maybe there is more improvement to come.

Edwardstone picked up a 5lb penalty for the Betfair Hurdle when winning at Market Rasen last week, but I see the official assessor put him up exactly that this week, so the horse will run on his new mark at Newbury next month, where he could be accompanied by recent Wincanton winner On To Victory provided he makes the cut, which will be touch and go judged on recent renewals.